Dispatches > The Buzz
- Republican Senate leaders forced a vote on a bill to make it harder for people to erase debts in bankruptcy court. President Clinton has promised a veto. The proposal would use a mathematical formula for determining whether debtors are able to repay part of their debts, but opponents say the plan is too harsh. Bankruptcy filings reached 1.4 million in 1998.
- Lawmakers in El Salvador last week adopted the U.S. dollar as a currency and established a fixed exchange rate of 8.75 colons per dollar. The government hopes that the move, which forces it to give up any ability to generate inflation, will attract foreign investors. The president of the country's central bank, Rafael Barraza, called on Central American countries to make the U.S. dollar the region's common currency. Panama already has the U.S. dollar as its currency.
- The last bastion of chivalry may be in Grand Rapids. Authorities there charged a 27-year-old Michigan man under a 102-year-old law that prohibits cursing in the presence of women and children. Jeffery Richards is accused of using foul language in front of children on a school bus. He said that he believed the driver was mistreating his daughter. Earlier this year a judge ruled that the law is constitutional.
- Duke University, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church (UMC), announced that it will allow homosexual unions at Duke Chapel. The UMC prohibits same-sex ceremonies, but Duke maintains that its famous gothic chapel is a "university facility" and isn't tied to the UMC. Unitarians, United Church of Christ members, and some Baptists want to conduct same-sex ceremonies at the chapel.
- The Brady Bill is taking a heavy toll on some gun dealers. A study from the Violence Policy Center, a pro-gun control think tank, claims that the number of gun dealers today is less than 30 percent of the number six years ago. Smaller dealers, who cannot afford to comply with the regulations, have been hit hardest.
- Benjamin Harrison Holcomb, billed as the world's oldest man by the Guinness Book of Records, died at the age of 111 in the arms of his 84-year-old daughter. An avid hunter, he was profiled by Outdoor Life magazine for being the oldest man, at 107, to shoot a deer.